Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Corona Numbers from the WHO

I can't remember a more extreme response to a situation as there is to the Corona Virus.  The next biggest thing I can remember is the response to the 9/11 attacks. With everything closed it gives me more time to write here about where the state of the pandemic is.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) has an online dashboard showing where the cases of covid-19 are and how many there are in the world as of march 13 of this year.  The image on the left state how many cases there are (142,538), how many deaths there are to date (5,391), and how many countries or territories there are with confirmed cases (135).  

The graph below is called a histogram.  It shows how many confirmed cases there are per day from January 13 to March 13 of this year.  it shows that there was a spike in cases on February 12 with approximately 15,200 new cases that day. The second spike in cases came on March 12 with approximately 11,600 new cases worldwide.

Dividing the 5,931 deaths by the 142,538 cases gives a worldwide mortality rate of 3.8% so far.



The second graph is an ogive graph that shows the increase in the total number of cases for each day over the same period.  Each dot on the line represent one day over this period.  The flatter areas indicate a slower growth rate for the epidemic and steeper areas suggest a higher growth rate.  The WHO's dashboard also provides this data for other countries with confirmed cases.



China has the most cases with 81,121 because this is where the pandemic began.  The graph shows that after the spike on Feb 12, the rate of growth there has leveled off.  The mortality rate there is 3.9%.  They have taken the most stringent measures to control the spread of the disease by quarantining whole cities.

Italy has the second most confirmed cases so far with 17,660 and 1,268 deaths.  The graph above shows an exponential growth rate for the disease.  The mortality rate there is 7.2%. Iran has the second highest number of cases with 11,364 and 514 reported deaths and a 4.5% mortality rate.  It has a similar growth curve as Italy.


The United States has the eighth largest number of cases with 1,678 and 48 deaths.  The above graph for the US has a similar growth rate as Italy starting on March 8.  The mortality rate so far here is 2.9%.  



I try not to make predictions about what will happen in pandemics like these.  Italy has put most of the country under quarantine .  It has yet to curtail the number of new cases.  

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

I Figli della Madre Terra (The Children of Mother Earth)

Buon Natale a tutti.  My cousin from Italy, Lorenzo Serpente (pictured below in the Clayfox  and Spider man shirt) has written a book called I Figli della Madre Terra or The Children of Mother Earth.  It is a science fiction/fantasy/coming of age story of a boy growing up in a prehistoric tribe.  In January there will be an English version of the story available on Amazon.  I have met several authors who have published books.  A few are listed below with links to their amazon pages.


Lorenzo ora (Lorenzo Now)
Merry Christmas to all.  Il Mio cugino d'Italia, Lorenzo Serpente (nella camicia "Clayfox" sotto) ha scritto un Libro I Figli della Madre Terra) una storia di un ragazzo alla prima della storia in un tribu`.  Si puo` comprare il Libro al Amazon.  Conosco molti auroti chi fanno libri.  Tre di quelle altri autori sono sotto in questo posto con un link al Amazon.

Lorenzo quando ho incontrato lui

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

What Would a Trump Presidency Look Like?


The first debate is now over.  The two hour prime time debate with 10 candidates at best would allow 12 minutes for each candidate to speak (assuming Fox News would allocate time equally). It will take 3 days to a week before we know what impact it will have, if any, on the race. To gain an idea on what a Trump presidency one only need look at former 3 time Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi


Newly retired Jon Stewart and soon to be Late Show host Stephen Colbert did lots of segments on both billionaires.  For a retrospective I'll present two of the Berlusconi clips from 2011.  He is now under house arrest with pending legal investigations. Trump so far has not been convicted of a crime but there have been rape allegations by his first wife and several insults made against women and minorities just like Berlusconi which are not worth repeating here.  A quick search of amazon didn't turn up any books critical of Trump partly because he sues and attacks his critics, most recently Megyn Kelly.  Hopefully he won't go after me.
  

**Update**

NBC came out with an online SurveyMonkey poll today which shows that Trumps lead has changed little with a small bounce for outsider candidates like Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina.  The survey had a sample size of 3,551 and was taken from August 7-8.  They used weighting methods to correct for any sampling biases in the online sample.  It remains to be seen if this result will be seen in polls with more traditional phone methodologies.
 

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Numbers and Catholicism

The Vatican announced this week that Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were cleared to be canonized saints. The former was fast tracked for sainthood when crowds were chanting "Santo Subito (Sainthood Soon)" at his funeral in 2005.  The latter mentioned Pope's bid for sainthood was delayed as there was no second miracle as "objective proof" of his favor with God.  Pope Francis I waived the required second miracle for John XXIII  to be canonized because he is known as "the good Pope" who called for the Second Vatican Council which modernized the church by, for example, having the Mass in local languages.

Pope John Paul II (r: 1978-2005) had reduced the required number of miracles from three to two.  A miracle on that saint's behalf is if you pray to that person's soul in heaven to intercede with God for you for something and it is granted it is proof of that soul's favor with the almighty.  If this happens on two (the church used to require three) separate occasions then the church considers this "empirical proof" of divine favor. 


Not surprisingly many more canonizations (sainthood) were granted under John Paul II than any of his predecessors.  Most famously Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, and controversially to Father Maximillian Kolbe.  

All of this reliance on numbers and objective evidence to make decisions while accepting on faith other tenets such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ which others reject is what really interests me.  For example, the church has 7 sacraments, 7 commandments (in addition to the 10 commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai), and 7 corporal and 7 spiritual works of mercy to go with 7 deadly sins.  The rosary has it's own numerology with 5 joyful, 5 sorrowful and 5 glorious mysteries which accompany the long list of the Lord's Prayers, 10 Hail Mary's and one Glory Be that accompany each mystery.  Finally there are 40 days of fasting for Lent followed by 50 days of feasting after Easter (40 days until Ascension Thursday followed by 10 more until Pentecost Sunday).

All of this seems orderly and rational with in the cosmos (Greek for the natural order of things) until you get to the Trinity which is enunciated at every Catholic Mass (and every Orthodox plus many Protestant services) in the Nicene Creed set at the council of Nicea by the Emperor Constantine in 325 AD.  It states that there are three separate individuals, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit but only one God.  Skeptics may state that this was just a ploy by the early church to attract polytheistic pagans (especially number loving Greeks) to the faith in the early centuries AD and that saints also took the place of their many gods.  Believers counter that God exists beyond the laws of the universe and human abilities of comprehension.  Islam rejected this type of complex symbolism and has had no trouble spreading faith in the later centuries.  Which of these opinions about God is true among the many that exist?  It's all a leap of faith now isn't it?

It's hard to know where to draw the line between faith and reason. We all make leaps of faith on things we do not or cannot know.  Darwin took a leap of faith on evolution based on the information in front of him without knowing about genetics which would've strengthened his argument.  The issue is what do we do with those leaps.  Pope Francis I is taking a leap of faith on his two predecessors. 


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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Habemus Resegnum - We have a resignation

Statue of St. Peter at the Vatican


Jesus said to his disciples "Who do you say that I am?"  Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."  Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  (Matthew 16:15-19)


This is the passage from the Gospels which the Catholic Church has used to justify the authority of the Pope throughout the millennia.  Pope Benedict XVI, St. Peter's 265th successor, yesterday became the first in 600 years and only the third ever to resign (hence the latin root resegnum in the title of the this post).  Tradition says that Peter moved from Jerusalem to Rome after towards the end of his life to run church operations (All roads led there so it is said).  He was executed along with many other Christians in the first purge by the Emperor Nero because he needed a scapegoat for fiddling while Rome burned.  



The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (r: 306-337), after seeing a vision of the Cross in the sky, won a crucial battle to consolidate power. Made Christianity the official religion of the empire.  He built the first St. Peter's Basilica on the site where he is believed to be buried and then moved the capitol to the east in Constantinople.  Christmas was originally the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia.  Pope Leo I (declared a saint) who is canonized had a public relations coup when he was able to persuade Atilla the Hun to spare Rome when the weak western emperor couldn't stop him by force.  When the empire in the west collapsed under it's own weight in 476 (it survived in the east until 1453) the Pope (or Bishop of Rome) simply took the place of the Emperor.  Some of the Popes were as ruthless as the Ceasars were such as Pope Urban II (beatified but not declared a saint by the church) who ordered the crusades in 1066 which the Muslim world is still bitter about. 


Pope Alexander the VI (r:1492-1503, born Rodrigo Borgia) fathered several illegitimate children including the (rightly or wrongly) infamous Lucrezia when he took a vow of celibacy.  I wonder what he loosed in heaven that the gates of the netherworld could not prevail upon.  The Protestant Reformation began during the reign of Pope Leo X in 1517. Priests had only been required to be celibate since 1123.  Neither Alexander VI nor Leo X are declared saints or are beatified.

From the Roman period through the Middle Ages until the industrial revolution  The Roman Catholic Church was one of the few sources of social services in Europe for generations.  It survived the Roman persecution, dark ages, defeat in the crusades, a schism with Constantinople, the bubonic plague, the protestant reformation and many other challenges. That's the main draw of the church even to this day.  Old ties die hard even in the face of revelations of new(really old) scandals.  Even Stephen Colbert who teaches Sunday school in real life gets laughs mocking the church on his show.




The media will focus on who St. Peter's 266th successor will be and why the 265th decided to walk away from the job.  Since the modern state of Italy was founded in 1861 the Pope has been more of a symbolic leader than a political one.  John Paul II was popular because. like Ronald Reagan (both had once aspired to be actors), he had charisma.  He told people what they wanted to hear.  You can see in the video above that Benedict's speeches were more like academic lectures and he couldn't live up to the hype.  Who knows if the successor will be European or not.  It is not a democracy like the Roman Empire wasn't though it had some of the trapping of a republic with the College of the Cardinals (almost all of whom appointed by either Benedict XVI or John Paul II) along with the occasional ecumenical council resembling the old Roman Senate.  The typical scandals with which we are familiar will be there no matter who is chosen.  I'll leave you with this video from the court outside of the Vatican Art Museum with a modern art sculpture of the world.




**Update**

John Fugelsang and Sister Simone give a good synopsis of Pope Benedict's record as Pope.  It isn't that different from John Paul II just not as charismatic.  He did make it easier for churches to say the old latin mass but I doubt too many will.  Former Pittsburgh Bishop and now Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl (appointed by Benedict) will have a role in selecting the 266th successor to St. Peter.


 
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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sports Stats Boring?


I thought I would take a break from the SCOTUS healthcare feeding frenzy.  There is plenty written about it on the PUSH blog.  Last Monday I was watching the Colbert Report when dapper sports writer Frank Deford was on promoting his book.  One thing he said got my attention: "The worst thing that happened to sports writing is its overwhelmed by statistics and the worst thing that happened is that (movie) Moneyball is all about numbers and numbers when it should be about blood and guts...Brad Pitt was nominated but it was as tedious as soccer is."

As Italy prepares to play Spain in the European Championships tomorrow I have a few comments.  Soccer or Calcio as it's called in Italy or football as it's called in the rest of the world is a sport that until recently been relatively bereft of statistics relative to American sports outside of goals and fouls (including yellow cards, red cards and offsides).  Baseball on the other hand has been loaded with statistics ever since the beginning when Alexander Cartwright modified it in the 19th century (Abner Doubleday had nothing to do with the game). 

Baseball Guy Brad Pitt and Numbers Guy Jonah Hill in Moneyball
I haven't seen Moneyball but would like to.  Deford has a point that just presenting numbers is dry and it's important to show the human side of those numbers.  Joseph Stalin once said "one death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic."  It's important to shine a light on the 'million deaths' and on the tragedy whether it be metaphorical in sports or literal in other spheres of life.  This blog tries to do both by not showing just dry statistics and also by showing the larger picture with statistics.  Sometimes sports statistics provides valuable illustration of phenomena in the natural world as is the case with Barry Sanders running style and global warning.

**Update**


Italy lost to Spain 4-0 and I saw Moneyball last night. There wasn't a lot of statistics in the film or the game. The game was dull because it was a rout. The movie was mostly about Pitt agonizing over going with Jonah Hill's algorithm rather than the old school scouting methods of baseball. It might have been more interesting for me and for Deford if they had focused more on the game and the numbers rather than Pitt's emotions. 

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Italian Americans and Todays Immigrants


This mornings Democracy Now! program included typical stories about racial profiling and harassment of Muslim and Latino immigrant groups in New York City and East Haven, Connecticut.  While I was watching this clip of the East Haven story, I saw either Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. or Police chief Leonard Gallo talk about their Italian roots in addition to comments on eating tacos which outraged protestors who were already mad about police treatment of Latinos.  Afterward protestors brought the Mayor a meal of tacos and he ducked out the back door.  Hearing this discussion of Italian roots made me want to do some profiling of the racial profilers.  


I have heard Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio talk about his Italian roots as his department is involved in rounding up for deportation suspected illegal immigrants and being accused of abusing them in the process.  He began his efforts in concert with then Governor Janet Napoletano who is now running the Department of Homeland Security which includes ICE (the immigration agency).

Likewise, Former Sen. and Presidential candidate Rick Santorum talks about his Italian grandfather, Pietro, escaping fascism (he doesn't mention that his nonno (grandfather in Italian) was a communist when he came here in the 1920s) in Italy to find a better life here while endorsing English as the official language of the US, attacking bilingual education, and also restricting bilingual education.  Santorum on Feb 2 received the endorsement of former Colorado congressman, 2008 Presidential candidate, and 2010 Independent Colorado Gubernatorial candidate (he finished 2nd) Tom Tancredo.  In addition to the usual restrictions on immigrants, Tancredo supports removing birthright citizenship from the 14th amendment of the US constitution, opposes adding Spanish books to public libraries, and requiring immigrants to renounce Sharia Law.  In 2006 Hazleton, PA Mayor Lou Barletta (now a US Congressman) passed a law that made English the official language of the town and prohibited residents from hiring or renting to illegal immigrants (it was struck down in the courts).


It indeed is a strange coincidence that so many prominent Italian American males are at the forefront of the movement to bash, assimilate, and stem (if not eliminate) the tide of immigrants.  Indeed, not all Italian American's are involved in this kind of bashing as can be seen in the clip above on the NYPD's spying on Muslims.  It was reported by reporter Matt Apuzzo.  His name sounds Italian.  He sort of looks Italian (they don't all look like the Snooki, neither do all Latinos).  Ergo (that's a Latin/Italian word right?) he fits the profile of Italian.


Looking back at the experiences of Italian, Irish, German and other mass immigrations we can find many similarities to the immigrant experiences of today.  Any time a new immigrant group comes to the US the older just established group feels threatened by the new perceived competition.  Also Italian immigrants of the generations before WWII were encouraged to forget their language, change either the spelling or the pronunciation of their names to make them sound more English to the point now that their descendants are now cut off from their roots.  Many of the aforementioned Italo-Americani are now feeling threatened the new generation of Latino immigrants.  As I see it, Italians are also Latino.

**Update**


 
Santorum, while speaking to a newspaper that Puerto Rico should make English their official language if they want to become a state.  One of his delegates has quit over his statement.  While his campaign just handed this territory's 20 delegates to Mitt Romney this may help him in the rust belt and heartland voters.  Stephen Colbert skewers his trip to Puerto Rico below.

Santorum Campaign Still Dealing with Puerto Rico Statehood Backlash




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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context

This year much has been made of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the US Civil War.  Between the years 1861 and 1865 the United States of America changed, at the expense of over 600,000 lives or 2% of the population, from a loosely confederated grouping of agricultural states (eleven of which were agrarian slave holding states) to a united nation without slavery but with industrialization with social benefits and ills that would later have to be remedied.  These things are important to remember but it is important to consider similar world events going on at the same time which also had profound implications for the US and the rest of the world.

At the same time that Abraham Lincoln's administration was working to unite the United States: Otto von Bismarck was campaigning to turn Germany from a collection of confederated principalities into the first united German nation; Japan was conducting the Meiji Restoration which ended the rule of the Shoguns and the era of the Samurai; and Italy was experiencing the Risorgimento which united the peninsula for the first time since the Roman Empire.

Germany
 
After having been occupied by Napoleon, who removed many medieval laws, the seeds of nationalism were planted throughout Europe.  Revolutions occurred against multinational monarchies in 1848 in throughout Europe.  Many disillusioned with these uprisings emmigrated to the United States and fought in the US Civil War (one out of five union soldiers was an immigrant).  Bismarck was minister-president of Prussia who through war and diplomacy was able to unite the principalities from 1862 to 1871 and then became the first Chancellor or Prime Minister of the united Germany until 1890.  Known as the "Iron Chancellor he made the famous quote "Laws are like sausages.  It's best not to see how both are made." a quote which modern sausage makers find very offensive.  Unlike Hitler he knew not to push his luck and he created a universal healthcare system which they still have today.  There was a period of German immigration to the US throughout the 19th century which continued after unification.

Japan

Similar to it's neighbor China, Japan had practiced centuries of isolation.  The Emperor had been a figurehead leader and the Shogun and Samurai had the real political power.  That began to end in 1853 when the United States signed a treaty opening trade and other nations soon followed suit.  To prevent the colonial domination that they saw occurring in China, the Emperor Meiji and a group of industrial oligarchs worked to seize power and westernize the country.  This was called the Meiji restoration which led to a period of rapid industrialization and colonization of Korea and Northern China afterward.  A period of Japanese immigration to the Western US began after this period.

Italy

Giuseppe Garibaldi
After the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 AD Italy fell influence of under wave after wave of foreign invaders including the Lombards, Byzantines, Normans, Austrians, Spanish and finally the French under Napoleon.  Like Germany, Napoleon had planted the seeds of unification when he had ruled there.  The northern states were dominated by Austria and France.  The center of the country was ruled by the Pope.  The south of Italy was called the Mezzogiorno (or mid day) and was ruled by a branch of the Bourbon family of mixed French and Spanish ancestry and was the poorest region of the country.  Each region had different dialects of Italian which were hardly understood by the other regions.

There were unsuccessful rebellions to reunify the country in 1830 and 1848 which were crushed by Austria, and France. In 1860 the State of Piedmont-Sardinia (Piemonte-Sardegna in Italian) created an invasion force led by Giuseppe Garibaldi which attacked Sicily first which was furthest from the influence of the large imperial powers in Europe and then moved northward.  His force found many willing volunteers to fight against the corrupt Bourbon regime in the south.  This is exactly what John Brown hoped would happen in his raid on Harper's Ferry Virginia in 1858.  The Risorgimento as the Italians call it had begun.

The campaign ran into more resistance as it moved northward.  The Papal States, France, and Austria had organized to prevent reunification but they had to contend with German reunification at the same time and France's leader Napoleon III was incompetent.  By 1861 Pope Pius IX became a prisoner of the Vatican City and refused to recognize the Italian state until Mussolini signed a treaty with him in the 1920's.  Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis wrote letters to Pius hoping to win his sympathies.  Today Garibaldi is as much of a hero to the Italians as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee are to the Americans.

Epilogue

These movements were all successful in creating united nations but still the process of rebuilding continued.  Although Germany had many great achievements in art, science is was still not given 'in crowd' status.  Fifty years later Germany entered World War I hoping to gain greater respectability and almost won but was punished severely afterward in the Treaty of Versailles.  Japan successfully fought Russia in 1905 and became the dominant power in Asia which later put it on a collision course with the US over control of a Pacific empire.

Italy experienced a period of uprising as high expectations by poor peasants were dashed after reunification.  Booker T. Washington traveled in Southern Italy and remarked that living conditions for the poor there were similar to that of southern sharecroppers in the US.  Garibaldi died in 1881 and was not a political leader.  After rebelling the great period of Italian immigration began to the United States (which included my grandparents), Australia, and the rest of North and South America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  A similar migration of African Americans within the US began as Jim Crow laws were passed in the south separating the races. 

Of course 80 years after the these wars of unification, all four nations were major players in World War II and afterward were given major nation status.  Now the other minor players in that war are clamoring for more recognition...


**Update**

On C-SPAN's After Words there is a good discussion of Great Britain's role in the US Civil War between Amanda Foreman who wrote A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War with Historian Eric Foner.  I cannot embed the clip here but it can be heard at this link or seen here.





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